Deadly Premonition and the pointlessness of scores

As some of you will know, I reviewed Deadly Premonition for Eurogamer earlier this year. I gave it 7/10. I could just as easily have justified a 4 or a 9. I’ve spoken to two other journalists who are playing it now and don’t quite know how to score it. It’s cases like this which make a bit of a mockery of the idea of awarding scores for games.

Now Deadly Premonition is a rare breed: a game that’s fundamentally both bad and good at the same time. Its graphics are last-gen, but with an eye for human mannerisms and detail in places it would normally be lacking. Its mechanics are seriously flawed, yet often very inventive. Its sandbox environment is full of glitches, incongruities and other limitations, but is one of the most fascinating game worlds I’ve ever spent time in.

Reviewing a game like Deadly Premonition is easy, because there’s so much to talk about. Scoring it is much harder, because it’s difficult to know how to weight the pros and cons. Its Metacritic page perfectly illustrates this dilemma, with one review rating it 2/10 and another at 10. It has probably the widest range of scores from professional websites or publications of any game I can think of. Do you, as the reviewer, assume that others will be able to overlook its issues, or do you decide they’re too many and too ruinous to award a high score?

It’s a tough question to answer, and it’s one which has ultimately led to such a wide range of scores. It’s a reminder that scores are not nearly as important as the text which precedes them; read most of the 7/10 (or thereabouts) reviews of Deadly Premonition and it’s clear most have a genuine affection for the game. I’ve read my review again since writing it and while I think my appraisal was entirely fair, my score seems both right and wrong. In the end, I wish I’d been able to leave it off entirely.

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